Category: Disability Discrimination

Walmart whistleblower to receive $31.2mil settlement for wrongful termination

A New Hampshire woman by the name of Maureen McPadden was terminated from Walmart in 2012 – after 18 years of service to the retail mogul. You may be wondering, what could someone do to warrant termination after so many years with a company? Well, McPadden was terminated for (and here’s where it gets interesting) losing her pharmacy key…according to her former employers. Continue reading “Walmart whistleblower to receive $31.2mil settlement for wrongful termination”

He’s the $5 Million Man

As the weather gets warmer and we transition into spring/summer season, let’s remember one of the most interesting cases of summer 2014.

Robert “Bob” Sallustio, and his wife Nancy Sallustio were in the middle of a terrible divorce. Both worked in the marketing department of Kemper Independence Insurance Co. in Sacramento, CA.

In 2006, in the midst of the divorce, Nancy began suffering from anxiety and stress that became so bad that she needed to seek medical attention and eventually go out on leave. At that point, the company continually harassed Nancy so she would quit her position. According to Bob’s initial lawsuit that escalated to trial, the company, namely the Regional Vice President of Marketing, wanted Nancy to leave because of her depression and crying at work related to the divorce.

Soon, both the Vice President of Human Resources and the Director of Human Resources were also on the bandwagon to get rid of Nancy. During the company’s crusade against her, Nancy finally filed a formal complaint with Human Resources saying she was being harassed and retaliated against for taking that leave and for her ongoing condition.

Nancy went out on a second leave, and upon her return, inquired if she could work from home as an accommodation. The Marketing VP denied her request and filled Nancy’s position with another employee.

Enter Bob, another employee of the company, and Nancy’s soon-to-be ex-wife. Bob also complained about the harassment surrounding Nancy. Bob created his own campaign to sabotage Nancy’s boss’s plans to get her out. This plan included promoting employees out of the marketing department.

Bob was then put under fire for his involvement, though his diplomatic attempts had been ignored. Though he had the support of co-workers and other managers, Bob was swiftly terminated.

Trial for this case lasted over five weeks plus over four days of jury deliberations. The jury awarded $5.65 million in lost wages, future lost wages, punitive damages, and past emotional stress. Standing up for his ex-wife made him the $5 Million Man.

Rand Paul Doesn’t Believe You’re Disabled, But California Does

One big debate in recent news was stirred by politician Rand Paul’s comments about employees on disability.  Sen. Paul suggested more than half of disabled employees were “malingers” – liars who fake illness just to get out of having to work.  Sen. Paul went on to belittle the majority of disabled employees, saying they are just “anxious or their back hurts” and they are not “truly disabled.”

While being a paraplegic is apparently enough for Sen. Paul to consider you “horrifically disabled” and therefore entitled to help – despite the number of persons which similar conditions who are nonetheless hardworking, employed individuals – Sen. Paul suggested that employees suffering from mental disorders and disabilities were simply “gaming the system.”

Fortunately, California law takes a very different view, recognizing that there are a number of disabilities that can make it difficult to work or engage in other major life activities.  While Sen. Paul treats the 14% of disabled employees with mood disorders as freeloaders, California law specifically recognizes the disabling effect of these disorders and protects employees “[h]aving any mental or psychological disorder or condition, such as intellectual disability, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, or specific learning disabilities, that limits a major life activity.”  In fact, two examples, clinical depression and bipolar disorder, are even mentioned in the text of the law.

As an employee in California, you are entitled to certain rights and protections if you are disabled, including reasonable accommodations for any work restrictions and protection from discrimination or being fired because of your disability, including mental illnesses.  Unfortunately, some companies act more like Sen. Rand Paul than law-abiding California corporations and fail to help and protect their disabled employees.  If you have been the victim of disability discrimination or mistreatment by your employer because of a disability, we may be able to help.

Costco to Pay For Firing an Employee & Fabrication of Write Up

costco forkliftA Riverside County Superior Court jury awarded a former employee of Costco a sizeable settlement for his disability discrimination and wrongful termination claims.

Jose A. Rivera worked for Costco in 2012. He was a forklift operator who took multiple medical leaves to treat shoulder, knee, and back injuries. At the end of his tenure, Rivera was investigated and accused of sexually harassing a female supervisor. The supervisor alleged that Rivera yanked her back and spun her around. Rivera’s attorney contended that Rivera, a native Spanish speaker, was only interviewed and investigated in English. Also, in order to paint Rivera in an irresponsible light, the general manager of that location emailed Rivera’s medical records to investigators, establishing he had missed substantial amounts of work.

Rivera’s attorney pointed out how odd Costco’s conduct was of this particular investigation; it did not follow Costco corporate’s standard protocol and procedures. The jury agreed that the investigation was a pretext to terminate Rivera for his disability.

The jury awarded Rivera a combined $1.7 million– $1.18 million for disability discrimination and $500,000 for defamation. Rivera’s attorneys commented that this kind of verdict for Riverside County was rare and unique, especially “for someone making $21 an hour.”

Source: Daily Journal